We’ve all hosted a party at one time or another…planning menus, preparing food, and setting the table are all familiar activities. As I’ve mentioned before, planning lessons is a lot like preparing for a dinner party! By thinking through each detail before your “guests” cross the threshold, you can create a memorable, comfortable experience that will enhance your students’ faith.
Last week, we talked about identifying and writing objectives when planning lessons. This is rather like the menu-planning phase of the lesson; you’ve identified the “meat and potatoes.” Today, we’re going to have a look at other aspects of preparation that will help make Awana, PSR, and Sunday School run smoothly.
Set-Up: When we plan for a dinner party, we sometimes need to pay close attention to seating arrangements. For example, we know that cousin Jeffrey likes to be seated on the end of the table; he’s a lefty and doesn’t want to bump elbows throughout the meal. And of course, we DON’T want Aunt Sally and Grandpa seated near each other…remember last Thanksgiving when they had that debate about foreign policy? (Aunt Sally locked herself in the powder room for 45 minutes after that show down.) We also like to arrange our pre-dinner space so that guests know how to find drinks, appetizers and comfortable seating~out of the way of the cook’s last-minute preparations.
When we plan for lessons, we want our classrooms to reflect our desire for students’ comfort and learning. When kids enter the room, they should feel welcome and comfortable. Clearly defined areas with distinct purposes help students to know what to do and how to behave when they enter the room. In addition, if you are planning special activities (for example a stage to act out a story or a cave help kids experience the empty tomb on Easter morning) the set-up should be done in advance. The most enriching lesson can be ruined if kids lose attention while the teacher assembles or arranges. Finally, we know that seating arrangements can make a difference! Knowing how to group your students in the room can assist them with focus, cooperation and learning. I often make a sketch of my classrooms as I plan so that I can “see” how my lesson will work.
For more on arranging your room, read this post from July: Arranging Your Classroom for Success
Materials: Make a list of all the props, papers, art supplies and books you will need for your lesson. This might seem tedious, but consider our dinner-party analogy…everything runs much more smoothly when your ingredients, dishes, and place cards are at the ready, right? It’s awful when the host of the party needs to run to the attic to retrieve a serving dish. Making a list and “setting the table” for your class ensures that everything you need is at your fingertips.
Stay tuned for Part III in this series: Procedures and Evaluation…this is where we really work on helping students to “taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8)